For the second year in a row, Kenyan children will be the recipients of tens of thousands of dollars raised in archdiocesan Catholic schools by K-8 students, who celebrated their fund-raising efforts during a morning Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Oct. 17.The event is annually sponsored by the archdiocesan Missionary Childhood Association Office (MCA), one of the Pontifical Mission Societies. MCA helps raise awareness among local children about children’s needs in countries with development disadvantages. It was first celebrated 12 years ago at St. Vincent’s Church in Los Angeles and was moved to the Cathedral two years later after it outgrew the church’s facility. In May 2013, a similar event was started for schools located in the Ventura/Santa Barbara areas of the archdiocese.“This is a day of celebration for our local children who have raised money and awareness for ‘children helping children,’” said Lydia Gamboa, associate director of the archdiocesan Mission Office that coordinates the year-round fundraisers (including bake sales, garage sales, walk-a-thons and individual donations by students and families) held for children in a pre-selected country. Last year, archdiocesan schools collected donations toward helping children in the African countries of Kenya and Somalia. Funds are used to meet children’s critical needs, such as food, medical and educational supplies. Donations raised during this school year will go toward helping African children in South Sudan. Among the 52 schools participating at the Oct. 17 MCA Mass was inner-city Our Lady of Loretto School, whose students, faculty and parents have made a tradition of walking nearly two miles from the school to the Cathedral. Guardians and students from other schools from as far as Ventura County and Long Beach took buses, cars, or public transportation to attend the celebration.Homilist Msgr. Terrance Fleming, director of the Mission Office, thanked the students and schools’ families, faculty and staff for their generosity, and announced that all the money raised will be matched by a friend of the missions, an anonymous donor.Following an annual tradition, Msgr. Fleming thanked the school that contributed with the largest amount: Corpus Christi in Pacific Palisades.Among other highlights of the event was the introduction of the Msgr. Anthony Brouwers Memorial Scholarship, presented to Lincoln Heights’ Sacred Heart students Cesar Melendez and Dat Nguyen by the Lay Mission-Helpers Association that the late priest founded 60 years ago when he was the director of the archdiocesan Propagation of the Faith Office, from where the Mission Office stems.Eighth grader Melendez was the recipient of $1,500 and Nguyen was presented with a $500 scholarship by the association’s board president Bill Metzdorf. Both boys won the top places in an essay contest about missionary work in poor countries.“I cannot go abroad but what I can do to help is praying for all missionaries and acting as them at home. This shows that we too are missionaries of God,” wrote Melendez in his single page essay.“You are endowed by special gifts that God has given you and now it’s the time to share them,” Metzdorf told the two young students while they stood at the altar in front of the largest children’s assembly congregated in a church in the United States. He said the scholarship and Mass were an occasion to honor Msgr. Brouwers’ contribution to missionary work, especially in African countries, and to celebrate his 101 birthday (he was born in September). For the young Catholics other main highlights were the participation of the drum line from Transfiguration School in Los Angeles.“Thursdays are not my best days but the drums at the beginning of the Mass really caught my interest and I felt a lot better,” Glendale’s Holy Family eighth grader Lawrence Kim told The Tidings while eating lunch with his peers at the Cathedral’s plaza after the Mass had ended. “The drumroll got me into the beat!” he said visibly excited.The drum line is part of the academic institution’s new fine and performing arts program that for the first time this year opened the procession of students dressed in different tones of blue, red and green plaid uniforms and others in folkloric costumes, who later presented the gifts and offerings, and dressed the altar table during the Eucharist. Transfiguration dancers also led the recessional and liturgical dancers from St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City performed as well.The liturgical celebration was sprinkled with what some described as “angelical” voices. While singing loudly, the young members of the choir of St. Joseph the Worker School in Winnetka also sang in sign language.The sides of the altar were adorned by two art pieces, winners of the MCA Christmas Art Contest sponsored by the Pontifical Mission Societies national office for the U.S. Winners were Sara Jewett, an eighth grade student at Dorothy School in Glendora, and Joshua Anthony Quan from St. Joseph School in Hawthorne. Their art will be displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. during December, together with art pieces from children from other dioceses in the country. The Mass was followed by a celebration on the Cathedral’s plaza, where children lunched and danced. Holy Family’s eighth grade student Kim and his classmate Ferdinand Engel, attending for the third time, said the occasion offered an opportunity to get “more in touch with God,” and to socialize, entertain and learn from students in other schools.”Kayla De Castro, president of St. Genevieve’s student body, and classmate Kristine Gatbonton, secretary, said they were still collecting funds for Kenya and are preparing a plan to start collecting for South Sudan.Alejandra Onofre, mother of El Sereno’s All Saints School first grader Vanessa Cruz, said she views the event as an opportunity to set an example and teach her daughter about Catholic faith and values.“It also offers an opportunity to the schools to stay connected,” she said.For more information on donations to the MCA, call the Mission Office, (213) 637-7224.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/1025/mca/{/gallery}